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New revenue numbers: Still waiting to exhale

by | February 9th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

We may never have expected to see the day when the announcement that monthly revenue collections had come in 16.7 percent below the prior year and 20.8 percent below the certified estimate would be taken as good news. But after the pummeling that revenue collections have suffered over the past 12 months,Treasurer Scott Meacham may be forgiven for putting a positive spin on January collections that were announced Tuesday:

Meacham said January’s numbers are somewhat encouraging, even though they remain below prior year collections and the official estimate.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing some positive movement,” he said.

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FY '10 Budget: Not a done deal?

by | February 8th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

Just before the start of the Legislative session, Governor Henry announced that he had reached an agreement with Speaker Benge and President Pro Tem Coffee on the FY ’10 budget.  Faced with projected mid-year revenue shortfalls of slightly more than $800 million, the leaders agreed that agency appropriations from the General Revenue Fund would continue to be cut by 10 percent for the remaining months of the year, with supplemental funding made available to certain agencies (Common Ed, Higher Ed, Health Care Authority, Corrections and Rehab Services) to mitigate the extent of cuts.

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Things Fall Apart

by | February 4th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (1)

The January-February issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine features an excellent cover article by editor James Fallow weighing the question of whether America has entered a period of terminal decline. On the one hand, he suggests that the nation’s crucial comparative advantages, above all an unparalleled system of research universities and openness to talented immigrants from around the world, remain strong. He also believes that the U.S. can respond to challenges such as job losses, military threats, and globalization. Where he is far more pessimistic concerns the country’s rigid and unresponsive political system.  He writes:

What I have been calling “going to hell” really means a failure to adapt: increasing difficulty in focusing on issues beyond the immediate news cycle, and an increasing gap between the real challenges and opportunities of the time and our attention, resources, and best efforts.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

by | February 3rd, 2010 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

Two years ago, Oklahoma Policy Institute was launched to provide timely and credible analysis of state policy issues that would help educate the state’s residents and guide public policy decisions.  We formed OK Policy to respond to the need for a results-oriented, analysis-driven organization that would gather data, develop proposals, and mobilize stakeholders to advance policies aimed at promoting fiscal responsibility, reducing poverty, and expanding economic opportunity.

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A first look at the Governor’s FY ’11 budget

by | February 2nd, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

In Monday’s State of the State address, Governor Henry laid out the broad parameters of his FY ’11 Executive budget. The Governor’s speech likened our current fiscal storm to the severe weather the state has faced recently and so often in our past.  While the Governor stated clearly that continued budget cuts are unavoidable due to the dramatic plunge in revenues that has hit the state during the current fiscal year (FY ’10) and that will continue next year, he earned loud, bipartisan applause when he declared:

We all will be asked to sacrifice. But we cannot balance the budget at the expense of the most vulnerable among us.

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Your program and playbook for the Oklahoma legislative session

by | January 29th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Matters | Comments (0)

Do you know who chairs the Senate Appropriations committee? When the deadline is for passing bills out of their original chamber? How much money there is in the Rainy Day Fund? The answers to these questions – and more! – are now available from OK Policy’s fully updated 2010 Oklahoma Legislative and Budget Process Overview. If you follow Oklahoma legislative issues, the Overview will serve as a helpful and handy reference guide, whether you are a veteran lawmaker or a novice advocate. To take advantage of this unlimited time offer, just go to our website where the Overview can be viewed online or downloaded for the insanely low price of free – although should you wish to make a donation to help us be able to make resources like this available, you can do that, too.

Saving the Rainy Day Fund won't work

by | January 27th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

Our friends over at Oklahomans for Responsible Government have a blog post up on the FY ’10 budget agreement expressing dismay over the use of (an unspecified amount of) Rainy Day Funds to help cover this year’s revenue shortfall. They say:

OFRG argues that the Rainy Day Fund needs to be as full as possible for FY 2012 because stimulus funds will no longer be available, leaving a $600-million dollar hole in the budget, about the same amount as the Rainy Day Fund has.

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FY '10 budget agreement leaves questions and challenges

by | January 27th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

In a press release Tuesday afternoon, Governor Brad Henry, Speaker Chris Benge and Senate Pro-Tem Glenn Coffee announced agreement on how to address the shortfalls in the FY ’10 budget that have resulted from this year’s revenues coming in sharply below the certified estimate.

Based on the revised estimates for FY ’10 certified by the Board of Equalization in December, the state is looking at a total mid-year shortfall of $809 million in FY ’10, made up of  $729 million in the General Revenue Fund and $80 million in the HB 1017 Education Reform Fund. The leadership agreement involves the following main features for bringing the FY ’10 budget into balance:

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Glimmers of good news in state revenue collections?

by | January 26th, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

This month’s announcement of December General Revenue collections didn’t seem to provide much in the way of good news. Revenues for the month again came in around 30 percent below levels of one year ago (graph) and 30 percent below the certified estimate upon which this year’s initial budget was developed (see our Budget Hilites for an overview of the state’s budget situation).

GRyr-vs-yr-dec09

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New report looks at impact of Oklahoma’s immigration bill HB 1804

by | January 22nd, 2010 | Posted in Blog, Immigration | Comments (7)

No piece of legislation in Oklahoma in the past decade was more controversial or contentious than HB 1804. Passed in 2007, HB 1804 – officially designated the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Act – enacted a series of restrictions intended to limit access to jobs and public services for undocumented immigrants and to expand the powers of state and local law enforcement to verify the legal status of those they encounter.

Supporters and critics alike labeled HB 1804 as among “the toughest anti-illegal immigrant bills in the nation”. Supporters fervently hoped, while opponents fervently feared, that passage and implementation of HB 1804 would have a significant effect on the undocumented population of the state, encouraging many to leave the state and deterring others from coming, while making life harder and more precarious for those who remained.

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